Drake takes out top-seeded UNI in MVC quarterfinal round

Drake's Noah Thomas (14) reaches for the ball as Northern Iowa's Noah Carter, right, watches...
Drake's Noah Thomas (14) reaches for the ball as Northern Iowa's Noah Carter, right, watches during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the quarterfinal round of the Missouri Valley Conference men's tournament Friday, March 6, 2020, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)(KCRG)
Published: Mar. 6, 2020 at 3:40 PM CST
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Roman Penn scored a career-high 26 points, including 12 straight to start a game-breaking 18-0 run midway through the second half, and eighth-seeded Drake shocked Missouri Valley Conference champion Northern Iowa 77-56 in a quarterfinal game on Friday.

The Bulldogs shot 59% and led by as many as 16 before settling for a 43-33 halftime lead. The top-seeded Panthers battled back and three times Austin Phyfe pulled them within two, the last time at 50-48 with 12:36 to play.

Shortly after that, Penn went to work. It started with a pair of free throws at the 10:50 mark. He followed up with a couple of layups and a pair of 3-pointers. After teammate Liam Robbins scored inside, Penn hit another jumper and Garrett Sturtz capped the 18-0 run with a pair of free throws for a 67-48 lead with 2:28 to play.

Drake (20-13), which reached 20 wins in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1971, faces the winner of fourth-seeded Bradley and fifth-seeded Southern Illinois in the semifinals on Saturday.

Isaiah Brown's 3-pointer with 2:21 remaining ended Northern Iowa's drought that featured 11 empty possessions with 10 missed shots, a missed front end of a one-and-one and two turnovers after offensive rebounds.

Penn, a 5-foot-11 guard, also had eight rebounds and eight assists. Robbins added 17 points with nine rebounds and four blocks.

Northern Iowa (25-6), which won the first meeting at home 83-73, was led by AJ Green with 19 points, although he was just 8-of-25 shooting. Trae Berhow, who averages more than 13 points, was scoreless. The Panthers were 5 of 25 from distance and shot 31% overall.